Just because I have a deep affinity for a smell doesn’t mean I feel the need to douse my body in it before leaving the house. Some of my all-time favorite smells rarely show up in fragrance formulas, and I’m cool with that. I can enjoy the smell of brown butter, pools that reek of chlorine, and artificial lemon all-purpose spray cleaner whenever I happen upon it without wanting to press it into an oil and dab it on my wrists.
Gasoline is another scent that fell into the “I love it but I don’t need it as a fragrance, right?” camp for me until recently when the Allure office got word that Snif was launching a perfume that smells like gasoline. Yes, you read that right. Snif’s Dead Dinosaur fragrance (which also comes in an air freshener for $9 if you want to give it a test run first) is an “ode to the addictive smell of gasoline, garage hangs, and simpler times,” according to the brand’s site.
Most of the notes in the fragrance are popular scents that consistently pop up in perfumes, like pink pepper, cedarwood, magnolia, and amber woods. What sets this fragrance apart is the prominent aroma of gasoline, which comes from gasoline accord. One very important note: this perfume does not contain any actual gasoline — but the olfactory recreation is genuinely impressive.
Dead Dinosaur is Snif’s latest (and currently singular) addition to its sub-brand Secret Menu, which specializes in unusual and anti-traditional fragrances. The Snif team knew they had a difficult task at hand when their community requested a gasoline-inspired scent. “There’s a reason you don’t typically see gasoline notes in fragrances — it is difficult to present it in a way that is recognizable but wearable,” notes Snif co-founder and co-CEO Bryan Edwards.
“When working with a smell as high-pitched and pungent as a solvent or gas, what you do is use pleasant smells that are completely opposite, but with a similar volatility to make the overall scent more palatable,” advises Frank Voelkl, principal perfumer at Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company. “The contrast between the two extremes helps to smoothen the excess and, as a result, find a balance.” The Snif team spent over a year working with perfumers to strike the balance between traditional fragrance notes and their unconventional star ingredient.